As someone who was a Protestant Evangelical (and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society) who came out of Catholicism as a young teen and recently returned to the Church (May 2007), I think too much is made of anti-Catholicism that is borne of theological beliefs. It one thing to think that the Pope will take over America and bring his “medievel ideas” with him (as mid-20th century nativists believed), but is quite another to think that Catholicism is a mistaken theological point of view bested by the Protestant Reformation.
That is where people like Hagee are coming from. I think they are wrong, of course. But they are not bad people. They are people who take theology seriously. They actually believe that theological claims could be true and are worth disputing about. I think this is healthy and refreshing. It is much better than the namby-pamby “religion is private” mantra, the patronizing pablum offered to those to which elites love to condescend.
Because religion is thought by many to be no different than matters of taste and personal hobbies, it seems downright rude for anyone to suggest that another’s religious beliefs are mistaken. For such people, “intolerance” is equivalent to merely believing that one is correct on a theological topic. But, ironically, this is a form of intolerance, for it is saying that there is only one way to think of theology, namely, that it cannot in principle be true and it is on the same level of personal preferences such as tastes in food, sports, etc. This, it seems to me, is far worse than theologically-shaped anti-Catholicism and anti-Mormonism, since, in both cases, they implicitly respect their opposition by taking their theologies and their beliefs seriously.
In many ways, the typical Evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic exhibits the virtue of tolerance in a much grander sense than the liberal religionist who thinks that no religions are true. For it is only when you believe that you are right and others wrong that the virtues of graciousness and respect become real, manly, virtues. The liberal religionist is like a man without genitals bragging of his chastity.
Hat Tip: Catholic and Enjoying It!